Well Toppin wins a lackluster dunk contest, and the league may need to think about ways to revamp that event.
NBA All-Star Saturday Night results, highlights: Obi Toppin wins Dunk Contest; Towns captures 3-point crown
We've got you covered with all the action that happened on All-Star Saturday Night
After a long stretch of action, the 2021-22 NBA season takes a pause for All-Star Weekend. Always one of the most exciting spots on the league's calendar, All-Star Saturday Night -- the pre-cursor to the All-Star Game -- once again featured a trio of star-studded events: the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest.
The night tipped off with the Skills Challenge, which featured three teams in the competition -- Team Rooks (Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Josh Giddey), Team Cavs (Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley) and Team Antetokounmpo, which includes Giannis and his brothers Thanasis and Alex. In the end, it was Team Cavs who came away with the crown after Evan Mobley hit the team's second attempt from half court to ice the victory.
The 3-Point Contest followed and included eight participants -- Luke Kennard, Patty Mills, Fred VanVleet, Trae Young, Zach LaVine, Desmond Bane, CJ McCollum and Karl-Anthony Towns -- facing off for this year's shooting crown. Kennard, Towns and Young ultimately made it to the final round with the Timberwolves star emerging as the winner with a score of 29 in the final round.
Ending the night, as always, was the Slam Dunk Contest, which featured Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Obi Toppin and Jalen Green showcasing their skills and athleticism for the top honor. At the end of the night, it was Toppin who became the third Knicks player to win the honor.
- Team Cavs win chaotic, revamped Skills Challenge
- Towns breaks final-round record in 3-point Contest
- Toppin brings home Dunk Contest crown
Here are three takeaways from the jam-packed night.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns breaks record in 3-point Contest
In perhaps the most shocking finish of the night, Towns went home as the 3-point Contest winner after putting up 29 points in the final round to beat out Kennard and Young. That final score broke the record for most points scored in the final round of the 3-point Contest, surpassing the 28 points Devin Booker scored in 2018.
Towns walked into this event already having declared himself the "greatest big-man shooter of all time," and while someone by the name of Dirk Nowitzki may want a word with him about that title, securing a 3-point Contest title certainly helps his argument. Towns is the first center to ever win the event, and the first big man since Kevin Love in 2012 to take home the award.
It was an impressive performance from Towns, who is having a solid season with a Timberwolves team that should be in the hunt for a playoff spot this season. Towns' 41 percent shooting from 3-point territory is just part of the reason why Minnesota has been playing so well this season, and his dominant play on offense earned him another All-Star selection this season. The win Saturday night was a cool moment for Towns, who has been quietly leading a Timberwolves team that looks like they're starting to figure things out after several years of toiling away at the bottom of the Western Conference.
2. The dunk contest just isn't what it used to be
It seems like every year we watch the dunk contest we get ourselves psyched up for the event, only to be immediately let down within the first two minutes after the first contestant misses three or four attempts in a row. That was the general tone on Twitter and amongst the commentators, who were clamoring for the NBA to have the 3-point Contest last so that there was at least some guaranteed excitement to end the night.
While the league likely won't consider that, it can't be argued that the dunk contest has lost some of the juice it had just six years ago when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon were duking it out in a final round in what is largely considered one of the best dunk contests ever. Part of the issue is the lack of star power in the event. Where once guys like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Michael Jordan were competing for the crown, now we're seeing less recognizable names to the casual fan, so the anticipation right off the bat is low. It's also difficult for guys to pull off truly unique dunks when we've seen a wide range of attempts. Couple that with the fact that it sometimes takes three, four, five tries before a guy nails one, and by that time all the excitement is gone.
I'm not sure what the solution is for the league because I don't even think incentivizing the Slam Dunk Contest will draw the big names everyone wants to see. But perhaps looking outside of just NBA players and bringing in other guys who are considered professional dunkers who have thrown down some truly jaw-dropping dunks would bring some interest back into the event.
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3. The NBA should have a 1-on-1 tournament instead of the Skills Challenge
The Skills Challenge has seen a lot of overhauls, and honestly, at this point, it shouldn't even be an event anymore. You can tell some of the guys competing in it are going half-speed, the rules were utterly confusing this year, and despite the awesome finish with Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley nailing a half-court shot to win it, there just isn't much excitement there.
But you know what would be really exciting that the NBA should have on its Saturday night? A 1-on-1 mini tournament. Let's take this back to playground basketball, with guys competing for ultimate bragging rights. Guys can call out a player in the league they think they can take 1-on-1, and the player they call out has to accept the challenge. The NBA can hype up the matchups leading up to the event, and just let the trash talking and competitiveness ensue. That would be far more entertaining than watching the newest iteration of the Skills Challenge, and I feel like some players would actually get into the competition and make it intriguing.
That was JTA's final attempt and he fails to make any of them. This is Toppin's now. He just needs to make this final dunk.
I was right, Toppin gets a 45 for that dunk and he's out in front now.
Obi with a clean between-the-legs off the backboard dunk, that will surely get a higher score than JTA's first dunk.
Eh, not a great final round dunk for JTA. He gets a 39 there.
Toppin gets 46 and that's enough for him to advance to the finals with Juan Toscano-Anderson. Should be a good finale.
Obi's dunk should get a 50, on the replay it looks a lot better than in real time. Off the backboard, between the legs, that was difficult.
JTA nails it on his second attempt, he gets a 43 for the 360 dunk, He's got a combined score of 87 and is now in first place.
In theory this dunk looks super sick for Cole Anthony, but he missed on all 3 attempts and that'll be all for him tonight. The judges give him a 30, the lowest score you could get and he's got a combined 70 points in the first round. Green may have a chance to advance here after that attempt.
On the third attempt Green nails a 360 between-the-legs dunk. Impressive dunk, he made it look easy. He gets a 45 so he's got a chance to advance, but he'll have to watch and wait.
Green up first and he's still struggling to convert on his dunks.
Green gets 38 and he's in last with that score. That's tough because he's probably the most exciting dunker in this group. He still has one more dunk in this first round to try and make it to the finals, but he's got some work to do.
Well after like 15 attempts, Green throws down a windmill. He probably should've gone with that easy dunk earlier after not getting the timing down on that first down. That will probably hurt his score.
Jalen Green came out with a chain that had an NFT on it then gave it to Isiah Thomas? Weird!
Toppin gets a 44 and is tied with JTA. The crowd sounds like they disagree with the boos, he probably should've gotten a higher score.
Obi goes behind the back while dunking over someone and nails it on his third try. Again, if he would've made it on his first try that would've been a sick dunk.
Obi Toppin up next, he's thrown down some crazy dunks in games, this should be good.
JTA gets a 44, he's now in first place. That's a pretty accurate score for his first dunk.
JTA jumps over Wiggins and flushes the dunk home. He should get a high score just for finishing the first dunk
Next up Juan Toscano-Anderson, and he's getting some help from teammate Andrew Wiggins on this dunk.
Anthony gets a 40 on that first dunk, setting the bar high-ish.
Anthony pulls off a windmill in the Timbs. Decent dunk, but the two failed attempts to start should lower the score there.
Well you can tell already the heaviness of the timbs are playing a role after that failed first attempt
This dunk is already taking an extreme amount of time just to pull off.
And Cole brings out his dad, and it looks like he's going to try and dunk in some Timberland's which are incredibly heavy if you didn't know.
First up is Cole Anthony, let's see what he's got for the first dunk of the night.
Well that was a nice performance before the main event of the night. Hopefully the Slam Dunk Contest can deliver this year.
And it'll be Karl-Anthony Towns who wins the 3-point contest. Definitely didn't expect that given this field of contestants.
Trae couldn't get there. He got 26 points and he's officially out. Kennard has to beat 29 to win it here, otherwise KAT takes home the crown.
That was a really strong round from KAT. He's got 29 with Kennard and Trae on deck. Let's see if that holds...